The front door of the Murphy home swung open. Isaac, stone faced and eyes bloodshot, trudged in and shut it behind him. He dropped his bag with a thud and shrugged his coat off onto the floor. He walked to the stairs, passing by a small asymmetrical hole in the wall and went upstairs. He stopped in front of his bedroom. Turning around, he stared at the closed door at the end of the hallway. The house was dead silent. It was overcoming how quiet it was, a complete lack of life, save for one exhausted heartbeat. Isaac approached the door and grasped the dusty handle. With a creak, the door cracked open. The beautiful nursery sat just as it had when Emily left it, waiting for a child who would never come. There was a messy pile of cute stuffed animals by the crib, still with the tags on. Emily had planned to arrange them in just the perfect way for Samantha, since the big day was only a few away…
Isaac couldn't bear to touch anything. He pulled his wallet out and withdrew a small photo of Emily. She was a beautiful southern girl, with blonde hair and dazzling green eyes. Isaac fell to his knees next to the crib and curled up into fetal position, staring at the photo. A rattle of thunder shook through the night sky as rain pattered against the nursery windows. With Emily in his eyes, Isaac drifted off to sleep.
Isaac’s watch alarm buzzed, 6:00 a.m. He cracked his eyelids open and the first thing he saw was Emily’s face. This brought the smallest comfort. Slowly, he rose to his feet and stretched his sore back. He wiped the crust from his eyes and tucked the photo of Emily back into his wallet. He moved to leave the nursery, pausing once to look back, gritting his teeth at the sight of the dusty room. Carefully, he shut the door as quiet as possible, so as not to disturb a sleeping child, and then walked to the bathroom. Once inside, he stripped off his clothes and stood naked in front of the floor to ceiling bathroom mirror, staring at the gaunt and ruined man that was his reflection.
You can’t keep living like this, Isaac.
Isaac touched his pale chest and felt the breath rush in his lungs. He shut his bloodshot brown eyes as his heart beat beneath his chest. He counted to four and then inhaled. He then counted to four again, holding the air in, and then let it out slowly. He ran a hand through his sandy blonde hair. Several streaks of grey showed his premature aging. They were new. He was only thirty-six. He turned away from his reflection and stepped into the shower. Moments later, hot water cascaded down onto his flesh. He turned the water to near scalding and let the heat and steam envelope him.
I can still feel her touch.
Isaac, deep in his own thoughts, held his arms out in an empty embrace, holding the spirit of Emily. Together they stood in the water and let the tears flow. Isaac buried his face into her breast, comforted by her heartbeat.
“I will always love you.” Isaac murmured. He opened his eyes and found himself alone in the shower. With a single nod of acknowledgement, he began to wash himself without a word.
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